Internet

Panel report on Net Neutrality to be made public in few days

Net neutrality gained national attention after Internet activists and experts flagged telecom giant Bharti Airtel’s ‘Airtel Zero’ platform to be in violation of the principle. File photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar  

The telecom department panel that was set up to look into the Net Neutrality issue has submitted its report to Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and the report will be made public in a few days.

“Yes, they [the panel] have submitted the report to me. In few days time, the report will be put on the website, you can see and access it. I have asked the Secretary to send a copy to TRAI, so that they can also have a look at it,” Mr. Prasad said.

Net Neutrality implies equal treatment be accorded to all internet traffic and no priority should be given to any person or entity or company based on payment, which is seen as discriminatory.

“The decision [on net neutrality] will be taken by the government and the Cabinet. The government will have the benefit of both the reports namely of my department and TRAI. I would expect that report to be expedited,” he said.

Apart from the six-member committee appointed in January this year by DoT, the telecom regulator had also invited comments from stakeholders on issues like Net neutrality and regulation of OTT services like WhatsApp and Skype.

Net neutrality gained national attention after Internet activists and experts flagged telecom giant Bharti Airtel’s ‘Airtel Zero’ platform to be in violation of the principle.

Also over the last few months, operators like Reliance Communications and Uninor have tied up with players like Facebook, WhatsApp and Wikipedia to offer free usage to consumers.



Net neutrality

Net neutrality is a principle that says Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all traffic and content on their networks equally.

How does net neutrality affect you?

The internet is now a level-playing field. Anybody can start up a website, stream music or use social media with the same amount of data that they have purchased with a particular ISP. But in the absence of neutrality, your ISP might favour certain websites over others for which you might have to pay extra. Website A might load at a faster speed than Website B because your ISP has a deal with Website A that Website B cannot afford. It’s like your electricity company charging you extra for using the washing machine, television and microwave oven above and beyond what you are already paying.

Why now?

Late last month, Trai released a draft consultation paper seeking views from the industry and the general public on the need for regulations for over-the-top (OTT) players such as Whatsapp, Skype, Viber etc, security concerns and net neutrality. The objective of this consultation paper, the regulator said, was to analyse the implications of the growth of OTTs and consider whether or not changes were required in the current regulatory framework.

What is an OTT?

OTT or over-the-top refers to applications and services which are accessible over the internet and ride on operators' networks offering internet access services. The best known examples of OTT are Skype, Viber, WhatsApp, e-commerce sites, Ola, Facebook messenger. The OTTs are not bound by any regulations. The Trai is of the view that the lack of regulations poses a threat to security and there’s a need for government’s intervention to ensure a level playing field in terms of regulatory compliance.

Comment

>Privileging telcos over netizens - Prabir Purkayastha The sort of closed Internet that TRAI is proposing, in defiance of the principle of net neutrality, is no longer on the discussion agenda in any country.

>Live Chat: The Hindu conducted a live chat on how net neutrality affects users. The panel included Pranesh Prakash from Centre for Internet and Society, Vijay Anand from The Start Up Centre and Sriram Srinivasan, The Hindu's Business Editor - Online.

Key players

  • Internet Service Providers like Airtel, Vodaphone, Reliance...
  • The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India which lays down the rules for telecom companies
  • The Internet companies like Facebook, Google, whatsapp and other smaller startups
  • You, the consumer

The Hindu Editorials

  • > The importance of Net neutrality: Should the Internet be touched? That's one way to summarise the twenty questions the TRAI has asked the public in a recent consultation paper.
  • > Blow for Net neutrality: Flipkart had to contain the fallout after Airtel Zero was severely criticised by the proponents of Net neutrality, the principle that all Internet traffic has to be treated equally.

>News analysis: Flipkart and flipside

Is Flipkart so naive not to know the implications of Airtel Zero for the overall Internet ecosystem?

>Here's why you're wrong, Mr. Zuckerberg

The Facebook founder said universal connectivity and net neutrality can co-exist.

>Here's all you need to know on the issue

Missed the debate? A look at the issue of Net neutrality and the controversy surrounding it.

>Telecom Ministry to submit report by May 9

The government has set up a six-member committee to examine the issue of Net neutrality.




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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 12:48:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/internet/report-on-net-neutrality-to-be-made-public/article7275075.ece

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